River Weser, Außenweser,
Jadebusen, neighbouring entity Stadland
Approx. 216 km²
Coastal Marsh of Lower
Origin of name:
‘Outside of the Jade’, it
was an island in the Middle Ages
Relationship/similarities with other cultural entities:
Grassland marshes like
Krummhörn and Norderland; Dwelling mound villages like Krummhörn,
Norderland and Wangerland/Jeverland; Kübbungshaus (timber-frame house)
like the ones in the region of Friesischen Wehde, Osterstadt and Land
Wursten; Jedutenhügel like in Stadland
Characteristic elements and
dwelling mound villages, Kübbungshaus (timber-frame houses),
2. Geology and geography
Butjadingen is a peninsula in the very north of the rural district of
Wesermarsch. The natural boundaries are formed in the north by the
Außenweser, in the west and south-west by the Außenjade and in the east and
north-east by the River Weser. The southern part of Butjadingen adjoins
Stadland, at Eckwarderhörne - Norderham. Today the cultural landscape of
Butjadingen comprises the community Butjadingen and large parts of the town
The natural environment beside the river Weser is formed by brackish
marshes, beside the Jade and along the estuary of the river Weser there are
sea marshes. Inland Butjadingen has areas with brackish and sea marshes in
different depths and states of development, which reflect its complex
natural history. Two barrier beaches developed in the western area of
Butjadingen, arching parallel to the coast-line. These were built by
succesive phases of sedimentation. The Weser-Uferwall (barrier beach) at the
west bank of the Weser lies in a north-south direction.
|Contemporary landscape nearby Langwarden
||Winterlandscape nearby Langwarden
2.2 Present landscape
Characteristic of this specific region are the large expanses of
grassland-marshes and roads bordered by trees. This area is distinguished by
its lack of forests. Therefore the farms on the dwelling mounds with their
surrounding woods can be clearly identified. The only elevations are
represented by dikes, street dams, dwelling mounds and other buildings.
Particularly typical are the Langwurten (dwelling mounds in a linear shape)
on top of the former barrier beaches, whose arched parallel alignment to the
coast line they echo. The coast is dominated by the sea dike. An increase of
agricultural land use can be observed in the area. Important water features
include the Butjadinger Entwässerungskanal (drainage), the Butjadinger Kanal
(canal) and the Eckwarder Sieltief (sluice). Nordenham is an industrial town
with a harbour, corresponding infrastructure and distinctive buildings.
Farm estate on a dwelling mound
|Landscape nearby Langwarden
3. Landscape and settlement history
3.1 Prehistoric and Medieval Times
The date of the oldest settlement in Butjadingen has not yet been
established by archaeological means. On the basis of comparison with
neighbouring areas the first settlements should belong to the Neolithic
period. It is probable that the finds for this period mostly lie underneath
a thick layer of alluvial sediments and will only be found by systematic
investigation or a deep dig. The oldest finds of the rural district of
Wesermarsch date from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.
Dredging-machines have found antler and stone axes in the Weser between
Brake and Elsfleth.
A large number of ground-level settlements have been found on the barrier
beaches in Butjadingen dating from the 1st century BC. Since the 1st century
AD the rising sea levels have led to the building of dwelling mounds. In the
2nd century AD the settlements on the inner barrier beach were abandoned,
because a new barrier beach had developed some 2.5km seawards. This brought
economic deterioration to the mainland, because the water could not drain
from the land-surface. Many further settlements were abandoned in the 5th
century for reasons that are not yet clear. However the large linear
dwellings mounds with their villages demonstrate that Butjadingen is an
ideal location for answering some of these questions.
Butjadingen was colonized again in the 7th/8th centuries by settlers from
the Frisian area of the Netherlands. These new settlements were built both
on the earlier settlement sites as well as in the new areas which had
developed on the seawards side of the entity. In late medieval times these
outer settlements were lost to the great flood-tides and can now only be
located by studying historic sources or by archaeological research in the
In Niens, a dwelling mound from the 7th to the 12th century was excavated.
The results show that, as in the preceding periods, the domestication of
animals, with some tillage formed the economic basis of the area.
The rising sea levels and the increasing floods led in the 11th century to
the erection of the oldest dikes. The first dikes were ring-dikes
surrounding the settlements and the agrarian land for protection. The only
scientifically dated ring dike was found near the village of the dwelling
mound Sillens. It is important evidence for the early construction of dikes.
In the following periods a complete line of dikes was constructed, which
meant better protection from floods and led to an expansion of agrarian land
as well as to a surplus in agricultural production. This put the rural upper
classes into a position of adopting industrial activities to extend their
social and economic position. As a consequence Langwarden developed into a
central trading place in the early 12th century. This village is a typical
early medieval craft and trading place built as a linear dwelling mound
The modern peninsula of Butjadingen was formed in medieval times by a range
of great flood tides, which created the coast line. After the second
Marcellus flood of 1362 AD, Butjadingen became temporarily an island, which
gave this region its name. Marine sediments can be found inland in the area
of the Ahne-Lockfleh-Durchbruch (sea dike cutting).
The Frisian Butjadingen was a free “farmers republic” (Bauernrepublik) until
medieval times, and this has had an important effect on its modern identity.
After a number of battles with high casualties (“Lever dod as sklav”) they
were conquered, first by East Frisians (Ostfriesen), then they belonged to
Bremen and finally to Oldenburg. In medieval times the political
constitution was characterized by egalitarian Frisian freedom (“Friesische
Freiheit”), which ended in the middle of the 14th century, when the Frisian
chiefs took over the political power. Because of disagreements amongst the
Frisian chiefs, as well as conflict with the Archbishop of Bremen and the
Earl of Oldenburg, Butjadingen found itself in a state of continuous
conflict. Between 1514 and 1523 the region lost its independence and
belonged to Oldenburg.
The complex history of the region is reflected in the architecture of the
churches. The churches of Langenwarden, Tossens, Eckwarden, Abbehausen and
Blexen have a clear defensive character. The church of St. Hyppolyt in
Blexen is the oldest one of this region and possesses a baroque altar made
by Ludwig Münstermann. The missionary of the Frisians, Willehad died on the
8th November 789 here. The signification of Langwarden as an important
trading place is demonstrated by a second church St. Laurentius, which was
erected by local traders. It is build of tuff-stones from the Rhineland.
A monument type peculiar to Butjadingen and the Stadland is the
“Jedutenhügel”. These are mounds of earth with a height of 5 m and 30 m in
diameter. They could have been landmarks or even places for executions. One
of these mounds can be seen near Volkers or Grebswarden.
3.2 Early Modern Times
Modern Butjadingen belonged in medieval times to the Frisian province of
Rüstringen, which lost its territorial completeness during disastrous
floods. Because of the formation of the Jadebusen, the western area of
Rüstringen was separated from the eastern area, which were renamed
Bovenjadingen and Butenjadingen. In the Lower German language Bovenjadingen
means “on this side of the Jade” and Butenjadingen “outside of the Jade”.
Butjadingen had become an island because of the Heete-Durchbruch (Heete
cut). At the beginning of the 16th century the lost area was impoldered
again, so Butjadingen was connected with Stadland, and once again became
part of the mainland.
During this period Butjadingen suffered from many of the great floods.
Numerous places and villages were destroyed by the water (Tedlens,
Langemehne, Bär, Alt-Waddens, Aldessen or Oldersum). In 1687 Butjadingen
belonged to the Danish government who allowed the dikes and their
maintenance to become neglected. One of the most disastrous flood-tides came
in 1717 around Christmas. Almost one third of the population died and the
region suffered for a long period from the negative effects on the economy.
3.3 Modern Times
The development of the infrastructure demonstrates the economical
development of the region. No roads are shown in Butjadingen on the road
maps of 1812. Around 1863 the first road connection from Brake to Burhaven
over Stollhamm is registered. A road map of around 1893 depicts roads in
Butjadingen and Nordenham, these are still important (the L 858, L 860, B
The first railway opened in 1875 from Brake to Nordenham, and was extended
to the north in the direction of Blexen in 1905. The Butjadinger Railway,
which runs through the northern part of the Wesermarsch, can still be
visited today. Parts of the embankment, between Nordenham and Stollhamm are
now in use as a bicycle trail. It is part of the wide range of the tourist
facilities in Butjadingen. In many villages in this region the old railway
station buildings survive and are sometimes used as pubs or restaurants.
The city of Nordenham developed from the community of Atens after the
mid-19th century. The tradesman Wilhelm Müller had built a pier, the
“ox-pier” (Ochsenpier), where cattle were transported to England via the
Norddeutsche Lloyd (North-German Lloyd). The first industrial enterprise
settled in Nordenham in 1899 producing sea cables (Norddeutsche
Seekabelwerke AG). It was followed by the Frerichs-Dockyard in 1905 in a
district of Nordenham called Einswarden. At that time the district belonged
to the community of Blexen, which merged with Nordenham in 1933. In 1908 the
metal industry of Unterweser AG started its production of NE-metals
(nonferrous metals). It had been founded here so as to use the ore ballast
from the ships coming from overseas to the lower Weser.
A logical consequence of the metallurgical work was the foundation of a
factory for artificial manure Superphosphatfabrik (1906–1908). Here
sulphuric acid derived from the metallurgical processes could be processed.
It was closed down in 1988 because of a drastic crisis in the artificial
The First World War put an end to the industrialization of this region.
Because of the economic crisis the Frerichs-Dockyard had to close in 1935.
Branches of the aircraft construction company Weser-Flugzeugbau GmbH from
Bremen moved to the two dockyards Frerichs-Werft and Oldenburger Werft in
1935/36. Aircraft belonging to the Donier Junkers, Arado and Henkel
companies were repaired here.
In 1956 the Einswarder Company “Weser-Flugzeugbau GmbH” was opened for the
out-fitting of helicopters. After some re-organisation the company is now
known world wide as “European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N. V.
(EADS). The centre of the EADS-family for fitting stressed-skin fuselage is
in Nordenham. Of great importance had been the establishing of a branch of
the titan producing company “Leverkusen” on the Blexer Groden opposite to
Bremerhaven in 1969. The “Kronos Titan GmbH” produces the white pigment
Titan-Dioxid in Nordenham and employees around 430 people.
landscape with drainage ditch and dwelling mounds nearby Eckwarden.
Historic landscape with drainage ditch and dwelling
mounds nearby Langwarden. ©
The predominant rural settlement of the 19th century in most parts of
Butjadingen was the villages with houses in a line (Reihensiedlungen), in
contrast only a few single dwelling mounds are mentioned. Along the river
Weser were mostly closed clustered villages (Hufendörfer). The most common
rural house-type is the timber framed, two column constructions known as the
Zweiständerhaus or Kübbungshaus.
Individual tourist developments have taken place in some seaside resorts, as
at Tossens and Burhave.
4. Modern development and planning
The Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning mentioned Butjadingen
in their report 2005 as a region where the employment rate as well as local
development is slowly sinking.
4.1 Land use
The agrarian areas have a high potential of natural out-put, because of
their geomorphologic history. The heavy soil, particularly in the marsh,
support a typical grassland economy. Arable fields are scarce, though the
proportion is slowly rising. In the year 2001 16.000 ha. were in arable use,
of which 15.000 ha. had previously been grassland. Agriculture plays an
important part in the preservation of the historic landscape and the
suitability of the entity as a recreation area (RROP 2003). Wide areas are
assigned for use as or developed as grassland. Changes to this practise
would need to be considered most carefully, for the regional planning should
guarantee an open landscape.
Meanwhile major work has been undertaken to strengthen the sea-dikes in
order to counteract rising sea levels. Extensive removal of tidal mud
deposits has taken place. This work has to be compensated elsewhere, which
helps to preserve the originality of this region. In the planning permission
hearings (Planfeststellungsverfahren) for the extension of the dikes, the
preservation of ancient monuments will be taken into consideration. The
office for the conservation of ancient monuments will be involved in the
planning and realization of the compensation projects. The extension of the
Jade-Weser-Port, which lies in Wangerland, has also made some compensation
necessary. One of these projects will be the demolishing of a summer-dike
near Eckwarden. Today compensation measures for nature protection are an
important element of landscape planning as well as for the income of the
local farmers in this low structured region.
Another economic factor, but of a lower degree, is shrimp fishing in the
Of special importance for Butjadingen is its position close to the national
park Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer. This biological reserve is protected for
migrant and breeding birds according to the European references for plants
and animals (Natura 2000). Behind the dikes, birds find extended areas for
resting as well as special refuges for all kinds of different species.
4.2 Settlement development
The history of the development of the settlement can be demonstrated by a
simple statistic. In the community of Butjadingen there had been an increase
of building areas from 303 ha. to 553 ha. within the years 1979 to 2005. The
majority was for dwelling-houses. In Nordenham this development had not been
so drastic. In the same period there had been an increase from 837 ha. to
1.195 ha., here the majority was used for industrial areas. In Butjadingen a
special increase can be recognized for recreation areas (2005: 64 ha.,
includes 28 ha. green land). In Nordenham there are 142 ha. for recreation,
including 115 ha green land.
The community of Butjadingen proceeds with the idea of an individual
development of the population according to the Cooperative Concept for
Settlement and Free Space (2004), which is affected by its neighbourhood to
Nordenham. In the long terms there will be a stagnation in population
growth. A special problem will be the obsolescence of the society. With
regards to the planning of settlement development, there are sufficient
building plots within the community itself as well as in the smaller
districts. The community is poorly connected with the public transport
system, and this is expected to grow worse after the Weser-Tunnel had been
|Historic landscape with drainage
ditches and dwelling mound nearby Langwarden
The town of Nordenham has recognized according to the Cooperative Concept
for Settlement and Free Space (2004), that there is a dependence between the
development of the employment rate and the inquiries for lodgings, whilst
there is no dependence between the employment rate and the inquiries for
building land. There is some industry in Nordenham with local omportance
with a constant number of employees (Kronos-Titan, Metalleurop). There is
also some industry close related to the conjuncture (Seekabelwerke, Airbus).
From the view of Nordenham there is only a slight involvement with its
surrounding communities (commuters). The town can not satisfy the inquiries
for building land (140 applicants on the waiting list). Also there are
increasing inquiries for single family-houses (or high-class freehold flats),
while the inquiries for lodging in apartment houses are sinking. In
consequence this will possibly mean an increase of empty flats.
The significance of tourism in Butjadingen is recommended in the Regional
Program for Rural Planning of the rural district “Wesermarsch”. Here they
recommend several providence and priority areas. In the following schedule
they are summarized with its special aims for recreation and tourism of each
location or district according to the Regional Program for Rural Planning.
|Special development task
|Special development task “tourism”
||Burhave, Ruhwarden, Tossens
|Recreation area of
||Town of Nordenham
||Town of Nordenham
|Recreation grounds of
||Town of Nordenham
||Town centre(Centre of
Blexer Groden (glider airport)
||Fedderwardersiel (Water sports)
Lit.: RROP Rural District Wesermarsch 2003
Following districts and settlement areas are also in the areas of special
providence and priority for recreation:
||Districts and Settlement areas
|Areas with high priority for
||along the coastline at
the inner dike
|Areas with high
priority for intensive claim by the population
Tossens, Fedderwardersiel, Burhave
|Areas of providence for
||From Waddens in the
direction of Schneewarden, large areas of the western part of the community
Lit.: RROP Rural District Wesermarsch 2003
Tourism is an important part of the economy of the community of Butjadingen.
Beside institutions and activities like yachting, surfing, camping, visiting
health resorts and CenterParc, there are international events like the
“Sand-Art-Festival” at Tossens.
The landscape and natural history of the region are of particular importance.
The adjoining national park Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer, bird-watching and
other areas offer a wide range of possibilities for nature tourism.
There is no university in either Nordenham or Butjadingen; is Elsfleth in
the rural district of Wesermarsch there is a college for navigation, the
Oldenburg/Ostfriesland/Wilhelmshaven. The community of Butjadingen and the
town of Nordenham each have one school up to the 6th Form.
The regional museum of northern Wesermarsch in Nordenham displays the
history of Frisian culture and the local history of the town and industry.
The collection contains the famous picture of the “fraternal kiss” from H.
Zieger (1910), depicting the decapitation of the sons of the Frisian chief,
Didde and Gerold Lübben (around 1418). The last fully operating windmill of
the Wesermarsch stands on the historic mill place in Moorsee. It is the
centre of a specialised museum for the history of mills and milling. The
substructure of the three storey high Gallerieholländer (a special type of
windmill from Netherlands) with two wind roses was built in 1840. After a
fire in 1904, the upper structure was restored in its present form. In the
former granary the exhibition now shows some typical rural utensils, coaches
and carriages. The mill contains an example of the working place of the
miller, who erected the mill 90 years ago in Moorsee. The national
park-house-museum in Butjadingen is in the fishery harbour in
Fedderwardersiel, and has an extensive amount of information about the
national park “Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer”, the settlement history of
Butjadingen, fishing, coastal protection and many more. There is also a
Historical Trading House Abbehausen, which contains about 3.000 articles
from the daily life, ranging from wooden storm-clothes-pegs to sweets.
4.3 Industry and energy
A long-distance line of 110 kv crosses Butjadingen from east to west, and a
second long-distance line of 220 kv passes west of Nordenham. Altogether
there are four wind parks with the highest density of wind energy plants.
Additional single power stations have also been installed. The waste deposal
site close to Tettens is clearly visible from a very far distance, as well
as the buildings already described previously.
The area was traditionally connected by water, like the river Weser, divided
into the outer Weser or the Jadebusen. In modern times the Weser, as a
federal waterway, is an important channel of supply for the industry
requiring the port in Nordenham.
Ferries cross the Weser. The car-ferry Nordenham–Bremerhaven runs the whole
year round, the ferry Eckwarden–Wilhelmshaven is only seasonal and primarily
for tourists. The tunnel underneath the Weser guarantees a constant
connection with Bremen and Bremerhaven. The planned motorway A-22 will
include the tunnel and runs south of Nordenham. It is thought that the
motorway A-22 will bring a greater connections to Butjadingen as the traffic
will cross the region in an east–west direction.
In 1893 the road system already included the most important roads in
Butjadingen and Nordenham (L 858, L 860, B 212). These following the natural
conditions and connect most localities. There are no direct train connection
with bigger towns and cities, the ext possible transfer is in Hude (on the
line between Oldenburg und Bremen). The freight traffic which comes from the
industries is dependent on the harbour and the roads, as well as the train.
5. Legal and spatial planning aspects
According to the Cooperative Concept for Settlement and Free Space of the
municipal working group “Wesermündung” (Bremen–Niedersachsen) 2004, expert
evidence was produced with regards to the possibilities for the development
of the whole region. It was the first trial to harmonize the needs of
lodging, industry, tourism and free space within one concept in
consideration of the tight connection to Bremerhaven. It is apparent that
planning for the rural development of the city of Bremerhaven and its
communities should always involve the close relation to the lower Saxonian
surrounding area. Therefore the community of Butjadingen and the town
Nordenham will be counted in this concept to the 2. Ring.
The community of Butjadingen and the town of Nordenham are part of the rural
district of Wesermarsch. Burhave has the function of a basic centre while
Nordenham is a middle-centre. In case of the regional planning Butjadingen
and Nordenham are integrated in the following hierarchy: the lower Saxonian
spatial planning (Landes-Raumordnung), the regional land use regulation
program of the rural district “Wesermarsch”2003 (Regionalen
Raumordnungsprogramm) and the land structure plans (Flächennutzungspläne) of
the local communities and their possible modifications.
In addition, the Concept of Rural Development of the Lower Saxonian Costal
Sea is an important factor. Specific plans about nature and the landscape
are based on the landscape framework plan (Landschaftsrahmenplan) for the
rural district of 1992. The superior instance is a regional authority the so
called “United Landscapes” (Landschaftsverband) “Oldenburgische Landschaft”.
6.1 Spatial planning
The effects of the new coastal motorway and the development of the
harbour of Nordenham are, in context with the extension of the
“Jade-Weser-Port” in Wilhelmshaven and the Container port in Bremerhaven,
difficult to define, however they will impact on the cultural heritage of
It is not clear whether the combination of intensive farming methods and
the benefits from the compensation measures will ensure the survival of the
agricultural economy. In the near future either wide areas must be laid
fallow or under the control of the natural preservation order or there has
to be more intensive farming production. The increase in arable production
will make archaeological deposits vulnerable to ploughing. The “dieing” of
farmsteads will endanger the historical building substances on the dwelling
The expansion of tourism offers can mean that the natural landscape is
vulnerable. This includes the building of holiday resorts, increase in
traffic and inappropriate development within the historic settlements.
6.4 Industry and energy
The extension of wind energy as a regenerating energy source has some
priority in Germany. The erecting of wind energy stations can dominate the
whole landscape, like for example in Krummhörn. Due to its coastal area and
the huge amount of wind Butjadingen is a very attractive place for wind
energy. The redevelopment of older installations will be a problem (heights
now: 80 – 100 m, then: 140 m) and will cause further visual impact. In
Nordenham the effect of industry and the railway has created a barrier
between the town and the water losing part of the town’s historic identity.
The dominant industry and its changing use have led to air pollution, which
is a handicap for a status as a recreation area. This also has an impact on
the historic structures and the appeal of the area.
In Butjadingen mostly the typical forms of settlements and land using, which
are adopted by the life of the coastal marshes, have been preserved.
Sometimes farmsteads and settlements are lying on prominent dwelling mounds.
This region has a relatively high density of ancient and historic monuments.
This preserved landscape and long settlement history is ideal for promoting
the cultural heritage of the area both to the local people as well as the
The exploitation of the historic agricultural production methods and
landscape can be used to promote tourism into the region. The changes to the
agricultural economy may be seen as a potential if carefully managed. The
creation of large areas of land under the Nature Preservation Order could
provide the potential to manage and protect the cultural hertiage. This will
require an integrated approach to the natural environment and cultural
A main source for the promotion of the history of Butjadingen is the
many museums, where the material culture of the region is displayed. All
together Butjadingen offers many different sources for the understanding and
promotion of the historical development of the marsh. An important
supposition for the preservation of these structures is its use by private
persons, farmers or tourists. It will be one of the biggest challenges to
integrate these different interests and administrative memberships as well
as the participation of the local population into this forming process.
Butjadingen is in the position of a good working association system.
Currently as well as in the past there have been some initiatives and some
cooperation initiated by business, promotion and tourism:
Interreg IIC-Project: A String
of Pearls along the North Sea
More then 300 smaller and middle sized businesses of the
tourist industry or private individuals have been active in this
project. Single “pearls” = local cooperations between participants,
who developed their own plans and their own images, produced own
advertising material. Information was exchanged on mutual
international visits and seminars, new contacts and cooperation were
found (project ended 2001).
LEADER +: The
multifarious characteristics of the natural and cultural landscape
“Wesermarsch” bears a potential of high quality for leisure and living,
which is capable of development. Under the principle “Wesermarsh in
motion” projects had been realized engaging regional participants,
politics and administration with the financial help of the European
promoting program LEADER + (2002 – 2006), developing the “Wesermarsch”
in between the North Sea and the Weser enduring into an attractive
region for recreation and for living.
Regional products: Because of
the wide areas of grassland, the region “Wesermarsch” is a high valued
environment for some rare birds. The consideration to promote
agricultural products of this region together, ended up in a
cooperation between farming, butchery and gastronomy. In November 2003
the association “proRegion Wesermarsch/Oldenburg e. V.” was founded.
|Further tourism potential can
be seen in:
||Bed and Box Offers
||North Sea Cycle Tour
||Weser Cycle Tour
||German Sluice Tour
riding and cycle paths
On the part of
the districts the tight unity of tourism and landscape will be stressed in
many ways. This creates a great potential for the preservation of this
unique cultural landscape.
7.4 Nature conservation
There is potential for the cultural heritage to be incorporated within
management plans in those areas either protected as nature reserves or
proposed to become nature reserves.
Author: Jürgen Knies
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letzten 3000 Jahren und ihre Ursachen. Probleme der Küstenforschung im
südlichen Nordseegebiet 26, 1999, 9-33.
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Arbeitsgemeinschaft Wesermündung, 11/2004, gefördert durch die Regionale
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bremen – Niedersachsen
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Wesermarsch. Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Nordwestdeutschland, Beiheft 5.
Oldenburg 1991, 9–32.
Niedersächsisches Landesamt für Statistik: Auszüge aus der
Agrarstrukturerhebung für Niedersachsen und der Katasterfläche in
Niedersachsen, www.nls.de, Stand: 08.11.2006
Regionales Raumordnungsprogramm des Landkreises Wesermarsch, 2003
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zwischen Weser und Ems. Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Nordwestdeutschland,
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